Monday, March 11, 2013


Ivyland, Miles Klee, OR Books, 2011, 528 pp

It seems that every year the Tournament of Books features one off-beat, somewhat experimental novel by an under known author. Ivyland takes that spot this year.

A sort of post apocalyptic, disjointed, phantasmagorical romp by way of multiple voices, it left me confused and reeling.

At least it is set in New Jersey, where I grew up, so I am familiar in a hazy way with Trenton and the Pine Barrens and the Jersey shore. The characters are mainly teens from broken families but everyone suffers from a Big Pharma created scourge, either economically, emotionally, mentally, or because of a gruesome physical disability. Everyone is also on multiple drugs plus heavy alcohol intake.

So the story is a nightmare, owing much to Kafka, Bob Dylan and television...I could go on but I would only be showing off or feeling more confused. Underlying all the weirdness is a deep, pulsing sadness, festering like a wound not healing properly. By the time I reached the end I felt quite hopeless about the future of anyone or anything.

Did I like Ivyland? Not really. But somehow I kind of respected whatever Miles Klee was trying to do. I would read his next book just to see where he goes from here.

(Ivyland does not appear to be available through independent bookstores, except through the Kobo Reader link at Once Upon A Time Bookstore, but can be obtained on-line from OR Books. I read it as an eBook from Barnes&Noble.)

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